In Memory of
U.S. Army Air Force Private
Orville E. Bodtker
Florence, South Dakota
Codington County
September 17, 1919-September 7, 1944
Died as a Prisoner of War in the Philippines

Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines

Orville Elmer Bodtker was born on September 17, 1919 to Mary Ann and Frederick Bodtker at Florence, South Dakota.  He graduated from Florence High School in 1938.  Prior to entry into the armed services, Clarence Kahnke of Florence employed Orville.

Orville entered the Army Air Force on March 3, 1941 at Ft. McDowell, California. He served outside the United States from May, 1941 to September 7, 1944. He was a member of the 28th Bomber Squadron of the 19th Heavy Bomber Group.

 In a June 19, 1943 article in the Watertown Public Opinion it was reported that his mother received word from the Red Cross that Orville was a prisoner of war. His mother had noted that she has not heard from her son for 18 months.

Mrs. Bodtker received the following notification from the war department.

The War Department was recently notified of the destruction of a Japanese freighter that was transporting American Prisoners of War from the Philippine Islands.  A number of survivors were later returned to the military control of our forces.  There were also a large number who did not survive or who were recaptured by the Japanese and about whose present status no positive information is available. It is with deep regret that I must inform you that your son, Private First Class Orville E. Bodtker, was in the latter group.

Orville was survived by his parents.  He is listed as missing in action or buried at sea on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines.  He received the Purple Heart.


This entry was respectfully submitted by Bonnie Bjork, Pierre, South Dakota, August 7, 2002.  Information for this entry was obtained from the archives of the Watertown Public Opinion, American Battle Monuments Commission and the South Dakota Veterans Bonus records.